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John Jenkins: Five-Part Consorts

5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 29, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Fantasy a 5 No. 17 in C major
  2. Pavan a 5 No. 2 in G minor
  3. Fantasy a 5 No. 6 in G minor
  4. Fantasy a 5 No. 15 in D major
  5. Fantasy a 5 No. 12 in D minor
  6. Fantasia a 5 No. 16 in D major
  7. Fantasy a 5 No. 14 in D minor


Product Details

  • Performer: Mikko Perkola
  • Composer: John Jenkins
  • Audio CD (May 29, 2007)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Avie
  • ASIN: B000NJKYOU
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #306,821 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
There are precious few fully-skilled professional gamba consorts on the planet these days. The British ensemble Fretwork virtually owned the repertoire over the past three decades, and their mellow, meditative style of performance has dominated our audience expectations of what a closed consort of four to six violas da gamba should sound like.

Phantasm is the "new kid on the block" of such gamba consorts, and they have a different sound - more incisive, brisker, closer to the bridge. To my ears, they bring the timbre of the gamba closer to that of the modern string quartet, and for that reason perhaps they will appeal to modern sensibilities. I like their sound, though at first I wondered why they didn't play more like Fretwork. Hey! The good news is that there's room in the CD catalogue for two (or more) excellent gamba ensembles.

The music of John Jenkins ranks close to that of William Lawes and Matthew Locke in complexity of voicing and sonorous elegance. Never heard of Lawes or Locke? I'm not surprised. The great wealth of English music of the 17th C lay forgotten from the "continental putsch" of the Hanoverian era until the Early Music revival of our times. The Elizabethan/Jacobian gamba consort repertoire sounds like nothing else before or since. Not until late Haydn and Mozart did any chamber music approach it in emotional expression. This is not difficult music to enjoy. "Try it, you'll like it!" as my Bubbe used to say.
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Format: Audio CD
This is a wonderful disc. Since their formation getting on for twenty years ago Phantasm have established themselves as one of the world's very finest viol consorts and the musicianship, verve and sheer beauty of sound evident in their previous recordings (their wonderful 2004 Gibbons disc, for example Gibbons: Consorts for Viols /Phantasm) runs right through this one, too.

Jenkins was active in the first half of the 17th century - roughly contemporary with William Lawes - but rather resisted the incoming Italian fashion for lighter, sonata-like compositions and pursued the English consort tradition of continuous polyphonic writing in which each voice in the viol consort has an equal importance throughout. The result is dense and resonant, rich in musical invention and variety of themes and moods. This, combined with the excellence of the performance and the superb quality of the recorded sound, made this disc thoroughly captivating for me. You can listen with care to the interplay of instruments and find real musical interest throughout, or just let the fabulous sound enfold you like a comfort blanket. Very warmly recommended (as is its companion disc of Jenkins's Six-Part Consorts J Jenkins: Six-Part Consorts /Phantasm and the equally good one of Ward's Consort Music John Ward: Consort music for five and six viols.)
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